Discipline

Last year I attended a meeting of a book club to discuss my novel The Ghost Daughter. In my quest to make a good impression on the elegant women of the club, I ironed my pants and wore a smart jacket. I even brushed my hair. As I perched on the couch waiting for the meeting to begin, one of the ladies came in. She wanted to know if I was the author. I proclaimed myself. Huh, she said. From the way you write, I thought you’d show up in leather and spikes. She wasn’t buying my ironed white pants…

6 Steps To Being A Writer While Working Full Time

Step One: Go Away  Close your screen right now and write 500 words. I’ll wait. We will all wait. Step Two: Steal Hello again. Stop talking about “carving” out time to write. The reason why you haven’t been successful is because you are mistaken about the nature of time. Time isn’t something to carve. It isn’t butter. It’s a precious biscuit that wants you to steal it. Become a thief of time. Your malnourished writing life needs time more than your never ending list of well-fed busy tasks do. Steal from the rich to give to the poor. Step Three: Honor…

Whose Jersey I Was Wearing

A couple of days ago, a line of Varsity football players barreled into my classroom. I’ve been known to offer encouraging journal writing times before big game days. Friday was a huge game day. The league championship was at stake against a higher ranked team. I thought they might have been there to ask to write with me. They weren’t there to write. They were uncharacteristically quiet, this group of boys. Shuffling their enormous feet. Smiling funny. “Guess what,” one of the guys finally said. “We get to pick one teacher to be with us on the field for Friday’s game…

The Time I Fell Down In Dance Class

I fancied myself a dancer when I was a kid. Flashdance was important. I watched a lot of the television show Fame. I listened relentlessly to my Flashdance and Fame records every single day, filled with longing. I made my friends call me Alex for a while. My perms were tight as screws. I wore leg warmers long after they were stylish. I mean, long after. Even in the summer. I badgered my dad to take the car out of the garage so I could practice tap dancing on the smooth concrete. I made up my own dances, dancing for hours, practicing…

Rad Romance: 5 Things That Happen Because I Have The Same Boyfriend at 46 That I Did At 17.

In high school, I was friends with a boy who was handsome, kind, strong, and the most intelligent person I ever knew. Reader, I married him. There are some interesting truths about having the same boyfriend since the eighties. 1. There is a written record of our relationship. On paper. Our romance began in 1987 before cell phones and texting were invented. In fact, though we went to the same high school, Jim lived far enough away that our calls were billed as long distance. There were a few years there when he lived in the mountains and I lived…

Rerun: To You Who Are Doing Rejection Wrong

I was reminded today in an email about happy I am being a writer, working with other writers and publishing professionals who care deeply about excellence in literature.  As a reader, some of the most rewarding and amazing books I’ve read have been published in the past five years. As a teacher, I am especially grateful to the gatekeepers and writers of the YA world.  Today’s September Back-To-School Issue challenge is a rerun of a post I wrote a couple of months ago in response to an incident of online abuse hurled at a literary agent by a disgruntled writer. I was angry when…

Song List for The Ghost Daughter

My novel The Ghost Daughter released from Coffeetown Press last month. Here’s a little about it: In 1971, a wounded young man runs with his daughter in the woods at night. As he collapses, he tells the little girl to run, and she does. Eighteen years later, in October 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake buries twenty-two-year-old Angel Kelley under a collapsed building. Her adopted mother Judith is diagnosed with cancer while her deepest secrets surface in national news. In nearby Silicon Valley, Reese Camden loses her husband in an accident that kills him and critically injures their five-year-old daughter Madison….

Back-To-School Issue

I used to be obsessed with magazines. My favorite? The Seventeen August issue. The Seventeen August issue was packed with advice on everything, gorgeous ads, and an East coast style sensibility that while super impractical for a California girl with no fashion budget, was the epitome of dreamy sophistication. As an adult, I’ve subscribed to Allure, Vogue, Poets and Writers, Writer’s Digest, Martha Stewart Living, Domino, Shape, Fitness, Oxygen, and Women’s Health. I love going to my mailbox and finding a shiny new magazine. It’s old-fashioned and cool. The problem is too much of the content doesn’t apply to me anymore. My…

The Ghost Daughter 

My housemate from college, Laura Alvarez, is an important artist and she and her husband will always be in the acknowledgements of every book I ever write because their approach to life and art is an astonishment that never ceases to inspire me. I swear sometimes I don’t know if I’d even be a writer today if it weren’t for their encouragement. Well, Laura loved my novel The Ghost Daughter, and really got what I was trying to do there which is an amazing feeling that truly hardly ever happens. She wrote about it on her amazing fashion, art, and inspiration…

True Lies: The Truth Behind The Ghost Daughter

I’ve been asked enough times lately if The Ghost Daughter is autobiographical to want to address the question before the official release of the novel on July 1. Yes, it is. No, it isn’t. The Ghost Daughter is a novel. A work of fiction. It’s a piece of imagination, woven together in an effort to make a pattern in a chaotic universe. But some of it really happened, though. If you’re interested, here is a short list of scenes in the novel drawn whole cloth from reality: 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake:  Del Rio Beach is a stand-in for Santa Cruz…